Recession's Ripple Effect

Well, folks, it's official - the recession has crashed the party and it's starting by confiscating all the perks and benefits we were enjoying during the pandemic. Looks like we'll have to go back to finding joy in the little things, like office snacks and playing codenames.

The pandemic, remote work, layoffs, and recession have been challenging times for everyone. Companies have had to adjust their policies to keep their employees safe and motivated. One of the things that we saw earlier in the pandemic was an increase in perks and benefits offered by companies. However, with the onset of the recession, it seems that these perks are starting to disappear.

In the early days of the pandemic, companies were eager to show their appreciation for their employees. From free lunches to work-from-home allowances, the perks and benefits seemed endless.

But as the economy took a hit, it seems that many companies are starting to tighten their belts. We are now seeing a reduction in the same, with companies cutting back on things like bonuses, health insurance, and retirement plans.

Amit Chilka, Sr. Director - Human Resources (CHRO), Intelliswift Software, Inc. tells us “The standard benefits such as medical insurance and life insurance still apply, but any additional benefits offered during the pandemic have receded. This is particularly true in the IT industry, which has been one of the most affected by the pandemic.”

Re- prioritise

It's important to remember that these perks and benefits are not the only things that make a job worthwhile. As the entrepreneur and author, Simon Sinek, once said, "Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first." In other words, it's the people that make a company great, not the perks and benefits.

While it's certainly disappointing to see these perks disappear, it's important to remember that there are other things that make a job worthwhile. At the end of the day, it's the people we work with and the work we do that matter the most.

Susan Kutar says At the end of the day, cutting down on perks and benefits may be a better alternative to laying off employees, and companies should explore all possible options before resorting to the latter.

While it may not be a popular move, it is still a better option than laying off employees, as it allows companies to retain their talent pool and maintain a positive company culture. By taking a strategic approach to reducing expenses, companies can create a more sustainable business model and weather the economic storm without sacrificing their employees' well-being. As we move forward in these challenging times, we should focus on what we can control. We can't control the economy and how it is affecting businesses. Everybody will get a taste of it.

Amit Chilka says “Consistency in the compensation structure and benefits offered by organizations is important, instead of making it need-based. The benefits may change, but it's crucial to avoid giving them to employees just because it's the need of the hour, and then forget about it later. Inconsistent treatment of employees who are joining new, without providing them with the same benefits as others, can create a negative impression. It's important to be fair to everyone, and have uniformity in the behaviour and treatment of all employees.

How can you have the difficult conversation?

Reducing perks and benefits is like taking away the sprinkles on a cupcake. People will not like it. It can be a delicate process for employers. All joking aside, it's important to remember that employees are human beings with emotions and needs, and it is important to bring changes empathetically.

Be Transparent and Honest with Your Employees

The first step in conveying changes is to be transparent and honest with your employees. Explain the reasons behind the changes and give numbers if possible. Be clear about what the new benefits will look like. This will help employees understand why the changes are happening and what they can expect.

Offer Employee Support and Resources

When communicating changes in perks and benefits, it's important to offer employee support and resources. This could include providing additional training to help employees adjust to the changes, as well as offering access to mental health support or other resources to help employees cope with the stress of the changes.

Foster Change Management

Change management is a process that helps employees adapt to such changes in the workplace. To foster change management, it's important to involve employees in the decision-making process as much as possible. This could include soliciting feedback on the new benefits package or involving employees in the development of a plan to manage the changes.

Highlight Other Benefits and Perks

If your company is reducing perks and benefits, it's important to highlight the remaining benefits that are still available to employees. This could include flexible work arrangements, opportunities for professional development, or access to other resources that are still available.

Be Empathetic and Listen to Employee Concerns

It's important to be empathetic and listen to employee concerns. Encourage employees to share their thoughts and feelings about the changes, and be open to making adjustments or accommodations where possible.

Communicate the possibility of giving back the benefits

Susan says “When it comes to cost-cutting, I suggest looking at expenses that don't significantly impact employees, such as vending machines, cafeterias, and in-office perks like free meals. Referral bonuses should also be reevaluated, as they only make sense when the company is hiring, and many companies are currently hiring less. However, I think it is important to maintain some employee benefits, such as work-from-home options and swag, but we can reevaluate what is truly essential and give those items to employees.

Ultimately, when the company is in a better financial position, it is important to give back to employees and reinstate some of the benefits that were cut during difficult times.”

After relishing those mental health days, bonuses, and company shutdowns, it's going to sting like a freshly squeezed lemon, no matter how the employer sugarcoats it. From an employee's perspective, it's like having a delicious treat and then having it snatched away. Let's not get too hung up on the perks and benefits that may come and go.

Maya Angelou once said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

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